Straight Talk Advice

The Male Crisis

Jan 02, 2008

Dear Readers: Each New Year I do a column on what I consider the most crucial issue of our time. This year that issue is what I call The Male Crisis.

Males are in trouble. Of all the American adults behind bars, on probation or parole, 93 percent are male. Males in America are five times more likely than females to commit suicide. Drug abuse, alcoholism, homicide, homelessness, violence — all are significantly dominated by males.

Those red flags have been waving at us for some time now. There are new flags, however, hoisted in the last generation, so new and so foreign that many people aren’t seeing the bright red cloth.

For instance, did you know university campuses are now dominated by females? Last year, the student body of the average four-year college was 58 percent female, 42 percent male. At some larger universities, there are two females for every male. Most girls enrolled will earn a degree. Most boys will not. Compare this to 1959 when 64 percent of the average student body was male and it was girls who tended to drop out.

Girls today are smart and driven. Boys today are laid-back and unmotivated.

From kindergarten to college to middle age, males have lost their drive. One third of men ages 22 to 34 are now living with their parents (a 100 percent increase over the last 20 years). The New York Times recently documented the trend of able-bodied men throughout the nation who are neither working nor looking for work. One in seven men in the prime of life, mostly white, mostly middle class, often college educated, has no interest in working.

Of course there are still intense, passionate young men who are striving toward success and independence, but they are the exception. Most follow the “slacker-dude” profile, preferring to take a subsistence-level job, play video games, and “just have fun.”

Did you know that the sperm count of a young man today is less than half of what his grandfather had at the same age? That 70 percent of college-aged men regularly view pornography? That one in three college-aged males reports erectile dysfunction? Some use Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra, others have given up on the dating scene entirely and rely on pornography as their only sexual outlet.

If I could beg my readers for something, it is to read the book, Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Dr. Leonard Sax.

Below is a summary of the factors Dr. Sax thinks are responsible for what he calls “this weird new virus of apathy” affecting males.

Factor 1: Kindergarten is the new first grade. Schools disenfranchise boys with too-early reading and writing, removal of competition, and abstract knowledge favored over hands-on knowledge. Females thrive in this environment, males do not.

Factor 2: Video games affect the part of the prefrontal cortex, different in males than females, that controls real-world drive and motivation. We’ve all experienced the rapidly growing species of irritable, socially-isolated males with no interest in anything but video games.

Factor 3: ADHD drugs (Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate), prescribed primarily to boys so they can “sit still” in our new “feminized” schools, turn adventurous boys into a lazy boys.

Factor 4: Estrogen mimics, chemicals leached from plastic bottles into our water and soft drinks, have flooded our endocrine systems with female hormones.

Factor 5: Traditional rites of passage are absent. The transition from boy to man is not hard-wired, it must be taught. And it is — by Snoop Dog, Eminem, and Homer Simpson.

Dr. Sax lays out the most documented evidence for the male crisis that I’ve seen to date. There is no preaching and he wraps up the book with solutions. Please read Boys Adrift. Our boys — and all of us — are depending upon it.

  1. By rick lynn on 08/07/2008

    rick lynn

    5012 Seaboard Ave.

    Jacksonville, FL 32210

    Why Males are Falling Behind Academically and Economically

    Males are falling behind in greater numbers each year both academically and economically.  Our society is still playing out the nineteenth century belief Males should be strong and Females should be protected.  This belief allows much aggression toward Males to make them tough.  Any sign of weakness or displaying work that is considered more feminine is a negative in the eyes of society that will only react with more aggression toward such Males.  Only Males who have been taught from a young age to not value those physical areas sufficiently and who are valued more so for so-called feminine qualities such as patience, understanding, ease of nature, kindness, mildness, and goodness will be able to also develop other information age skills society still feels is feminine such as mental, emotional, social, and academic skills. You see, all of those skills require more patience, ease of nature, and “low average stress along with proper pace and intensity in approaching those mental areas”.  Since society’s belief, Males should be strong allows much more aggression toward Males from day one, Males are operating with much higher average stress that makes learning information age skills much more difficult.  Also Males are not given (positive attention) mental, emotional, social, and academic support, knowledge and skills (unless by accident).  Society in its ignorance considers such attention and support as coddling the Male child.  Society still holds that Males should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

    As a result, Males are not given the tools to develop vital mental, emotional, social, and academic areas.  This greatly cuts down on their motivation to develop those skills.  The combined effect of society only rewarding strength and power to face aggression; neglect in many social and academic areas; not rewarding but acting with more aggression toward Males who attempt to develop mildness, kindness, goodness, and care for others; not caring to reward and in some to many areas even showing more aggression toward Males who display mental, social, and academic knowledge and skills are hurting many Males.  Over a period of years, this is leaving many Males grossly unable to compete in the information age.  Instead, over those years many Males have sought out and developed over time those qualities that will provide them with a measure of love, honor, respect, and protection from society’s aggression.  In this case, we have the power images, body building, and other imagery the Male is seeking to provide them with feelings of self-worth.  You see, persons experience feelings of self-worth based on the love, honor, respect, and support they receive from society.  Males having been led completely away from those more valuable information age assets from an early age are turning toward those areas society will encourage, reward, and respect in Males.  Over a period of years, this leaves Males far behind Females mental, emotional, social, and academic knowledge and skills.  Therefore, this is creating the ever growing international Male Crisis that will only get worse for Males and then get much worse for Females.  Society will continual maintaining this treatment of Males until a critical point is reached.

    The truth is in today’s world, little boys need just as much coddling as the girls and just as much mental, emotional, social, and academic support as the girls.  While neglect of Male children and boys may have proved useful in the more physical nineteenth century, it is working opposite of need in the information age where it requires much more accumulated mental, emotional, social and academic skills acquired over time.  In these areas, Males are being seriously shortchanged.

    Yes, it is true girls mature faster than boys for the simple reason that mental, emotional, social, and academic support are seen as coddling the boys.  Society has long believed in boys pulling themselves by their bootstraps in those areas.  This is leaving many Males far behind girls in many social and academic areas.  The increased aggression Males receive from day one, creates three bad things for Males academically, mentally, emotionally, and socially: 1. It creates higher average layers of mental frictions (redefined from higher average stress) which inhibit thinking, learning, and motivation in mental areas. 2. These higher layers of mental frictions also create improper pace and intensity in approaching mental work (apply too much effort when approaching new material) and higher tension that hurts motivation to learn.  3. It creates the Male ego or defensive cushion that the Male develops from an early age to protect them from the aggressions they receive from society.  This Male ego or defensive cushion has the negative consequences of further alienating the Male from “any” various mental, emotional, social, and academic supports they “might just” receive from society.  When Males hear firm or hard words from others like teachers or others their minds are thinking defense and not thinking about learning and enjoying the learning process.

    The combination of high layers of mental frictions and defensive cushion are working to create an impediment to learning that accumulates in harm over time for men.  In society today, men are given love, honor, respect, and support or the essentials of their self-worth only on the “condition of sufficient” achievement, money, power, status or image.  They must fight through the still present, nineteenth century confrontations allowed by society upon them from an early age to achieve those benefits and feelings of self-worth.  Society has now created through prejudice and stereotyping, a form of Gender Cast System through mistreatment of Males and over support of Females early training for Males to perform more menial or physical tasks while women are being prepared for white collar positions.

    It is incorrect to view the Male Crisis on role models.  The lack of role models is the result of the problem, not the cause.  If you had a bag full of sand with a hole in the bottom, you would “not” say there is less sand in the bag; you would say there is a hole in the bottom of the bag.  Indeed, we should fix the hole in the bag by providing Males with tools to develop long-term, mental/emotional stability so they can better compete mentally and emotionally in the information age.  One professional was attempting to find more role models for Male children.  He boasted that a Male child’s esteem goes up when they have one positive role model.  What he was unknowingly saying was that Males have such little attention that when they do receive that attention, they are very grateful.  This creates the large rise in esteem.  The fight for attention could be creating misbehavior in Male children.

    This analysis of Free Aggression toward Males explains the African American Male crisis in which African American Males are falling behind African American Females academically and economically.  This imbalance of high layers of mental frictions among African American Males is also affecting Caucasian, Hispanic, and other Males.  However, since Free Aggression is amplified in lower socioeconomic environments and since more African American Males are in lower socioeconomic environments, Free Aggression is amplified for those persons, thus the so-called African-American Male Crisis.  If Caucasian, Hispanic, and other Males were in the same position (this is the case in some areas) then the Male crisis would be just as great for those groups.

    Today, many men are becoming angry because they losing more than jobs and status, they are losing out on those things they are seeking most of all, love, honor, respect, support, the essentials of self-worth.  The little bites they receive in the various media and the workplace accumulate over time and create much anger that touches on and erodes their feelings of self-worth.  As a person loses feelings of self-worth they also lose regard for consequences.  If men fall behind more collectively, they may begin to retaliate more collectively, thus ending the present shield of over-protection for women.  This will mean much more abuse and crimes against women.  It will do well for all parents, teachers, employers to those in various media to be more kind to others, including Males.

    For women, due to the nineteenth century belief women should be protected and still in effect today, this has created much overprotection and even indulgence for many women.  It is creating very low layers of mental frictions collectively for women.  This makes thinking, learning, and motivation mental areas much easier.  This protection and continuous attention from day one create a high speed expressway that allows for much continuous, mental, emotional, social and academic support and advancement in many areas over time (years).  These two continual supports from society over time create nearly everything a person needs today to succeed in the information age.

    For women, due to the nineteenth century belief women should be protected and still in effect today, this has created much overprotection and even indulgence for many women.  It is creating very low layers of mental frictions collectively for women.  This makes thinking, learning, and motivation mental areas much easier.  This protection and continuous attention from day one create a high speed expressway that allows for much mental, emotional, social and academic advancement in many areas over time.  These two continual supports from society over time create nearly everything a person needs today to succeed in the information age.  Since women are given through overprotection, even indulgence, the benefits of love, honor, respect, and continual support, all of the benefits of self-worth from an early age without qualification (simply for being girls), they are working with much more continual support and interaction to accumulate more continual mental, emotional, social, and academic knowledge and skills that can be transformed easily into money, power, status, and image.  Even after this, society’s protection, continued support and view toward beauty and charm continually helps them in the information age.

    Women are now surging ahead academically and economically due to this overprotection and men are puzzled as to why they are falling behind in those areas.  If you remove the old money from older men, the girls are making more.  The current beliefs held by both men and women today is that Males learn differently and/or men are simply lazy and do not try hard enough.  These false beliefs only add to the growing Male Crisis.  The men who believe this and who do not have information to the contrary may believe they are somehow mentally inferior or just not working hard enough.  Somehow, humans, men included, tend to reflect the treatment they receive in their lives upon others and do not know or are not allowed by society to say how differential treatment is hurting them.  This may lead Males to give up in developing various mental, emotional, social, and academic skills over time.  They may limit their interest and desires to smaller windows of fulfillment within their social connections.  They will continue to dress up for display, their Male defensive cushion to at least present a plausible image when dealing in areas where they are not as competent.  Worse for these Males, they may advance their beliefs and feelings onto their sons from an early age, thus enabling the continuation of the harmful belief of inferiority in the information age.

    As for women, they having been told the same teaching that persons are naturally better in some areas or simply work harder.  They may truly feel they are simply more intelligent or have worked harder to achieve what they have achieved.  In our world, again women like men often reflect their environment and treatment upon others and so do not appreciate difference in treatment.  Also, in our world of insecurities, it is no wonder when women achieve, to boost their insecurity, as affects everyone, they will believe this achievement is due to more intelligence or greater effort on their part and not due to any environmental variables.

    There is another growing phenomena, this involves the driving of Males from the work place.  Part of the reason is there are fewer jobs left for Males in the industrial and other blue collar related areas and more job openings in more white collar areas.  But even so, there are other reasons for this change in society.  One reason is the nineteenth century belief Males should be strong has left many Males years behind in various mental, emotional, social, and academic areas of learning.  This has created a large pool of Male employees who are not able to adapt to information age needs.  Another reason is that as more Females enter positions of power and collective control, they are more apt to keep Female employees and lay off Male employees (there is no equal opportunity protection for Males).  There is another more complex reason why Females are keeping their jobs and Males are losing their jobs.  The nineteenth century belief Females should be protected works in the work place also.  It places more constrictions on how jobs, intimidation, force for output, and general respect and care is given to Females.  However, society’s allowed aggressions upon Male employees allows much more harsh treatment of Males in terms of verbal abuse, intimidation, job assignments, and lack of respect in general.  This difference in treatment over time places the Male in a much more precarious position in deciding whether to continually put up with such mental/emotional abuse or quit or be fired for finally drawing a line at some point.  Even when Females face similar treatment on the job, the over all treatment of respect and care usually support them so they are able to carry on and remain employed.

    I suspect these reasons are now being played out in society as Business Week said that in the last six months, “From last November through this April, American women aged 20 and up gained nearly 300,000 jobs, according to the household survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At the same time, American men lost nearly 700,000 jobs. You might even say American men are in recession, and American women are not.”

    Due to the advancement of the information age and the continual increase in domination by Females in white collar positions, I see the media now much more dominated by women who have saturated the airways from very light, tinish, and seemingly patronizing words, tones, and inflections to very strong, hard biting words.  Society’s protection for women allows these kinds of expressions with impunity.  I do not value such words.  Due to the confrontations I have experienced, I find such words in men and women much less valuable and even counterfeit.  Perhaps this is why many other Males are tuning out and away from the media.  I am a very caring person.  I feel for everyone.  However, I know there are many persons, who respect only strength and power and who see mildness, kindness, and goodness as weakness.  I see bank tellers, postal clerks, grocery check out persons, and even civil servants, using their society protected freedoms of expression to give verbal, silent abuse, and hollow kindness, usually to those individuals who are the most sincere.  Yes, this conduct, perhaps due to much modeling from the media, “does poison the well” for women in general.  I am now more on guard all the time.  The many women who are using society’s indulgence and using society’s protection to give verbal, silent abuse, and hollow kindness to others have poisoned the well for all women.  I feel this gulf between men and women cannot continue for very long.  I am intelligent and can deal with anyone on any level.  I just will not allow my words to be exchanged for counterfeit words.  LOL; Fortunately for me, I grew up with a speech impediment so rejection is something I have a great deal of experience.  I have learned to value my solitude.

    By showing Males and Females how our environments greatly affect thinking and learning, students will have much more respect for themselves and for others.  By providing students with tools to approach their lives differently to continually improve their abilities, students will then have a continuous hope of developing in time, many if not all of the qualities they admire in others.  Students will then have a continuous hope of changing and becoming better, newer persons with each passing day.

    We need to begin teaching Male and Female children and adults how our individual environments greatly affect skills and abilities over time.  We need to show Males and Females how differences in treatment do exist in the information age and have hurt Males over time.  By providing this understanding, both Males and Females will begin to have much more appreciation for the other in terms of their differences in environment.  Males will recognize how their environments are creating their difficulties and remove from their shoulders the false belief they are somehow genetically inferior or simply not working hard enough.  Females will perhaps also recognize both how differential treatment has hurt the Male and speak with greater care and understanding rather than the current society allowed verbal, silent abuse, and patronization they presently give to those they feel they have an advantage over.  By providing this understanding will the two groups be able to exist in more harmony and maintain better relationships.

            To reduce and eliminate this problem and help Males have a more equal footing, parents, teachers, administrators, and all forms of media need to be taught that this critical point and its many areas of Male aggression will begin to increase to a “much higher level” than presently seen.  We need to begin teaching parents, teachers, and others who teach and model to children that the extra aggression they have given Males is hurting the Male children’s ability to grow mentally, emotionally, socially, and academically over time.  They need to be taught how to treat those students and other Males in society with as much respect and care as they presently provide Female students.  This is the only way to help Males begin to catch up in all of the many social areas they are presently lagging.  This new way of thinking will be very difficult for the Male parent, teacher, administrator, or other professional for they have been raised with the old, more aggressive ways for many years and have come to rely on their feelings of self-worth based upon their money, power, status, and image.  They have also experienced years of aggression, which has been woven into their mind and spirit to create their defensive posture or Male ego that is now more or less imprinted into their personality.  Such a spirit will almost invariably imprint this same posture or spirit into the Male children they are raising.

            For many Males it will require much cognitive understanding of the problem and a willingness to begin treating Male children with the same respect and give the same positive attention to the Male children as they do with Female children.  For women, this means not using Male children as emotional scapegoats as society has allowed them to do in the past.  Also women need to begin realizing that using adult Males as emotional scapegoats (with current feelings of protection by society) when they have power over them in some way is a very hazardous way to approach Males.  You know, with continuous indulgence so directly related to mental, emotional, social, and academic knowledge and skills over time, society would practically have to treat Female and Male children the same in many areas to achieve equality between genders.  I see Males and society losing in the end, but this end may be pushed off much farther into the future provided there is much more understanding and action in this area over time.  This problem will only get worse unless action is taken now.

          We must learn to realize that our current, single/multiple intelligence models were simply accepted out of hand years ago and held on to by many who were in control and apparently felt satisfied enough with their own life.  Such ones could not see the tremendous disadvantage and damage such narrow, short-sighted beliefs would have on others, even among some persons who are closely related to them.

          I tell those who would still cling to the myth of permanence in ability they are killing their students whereas my theory offers two large, cognitive tools to continually improve ability and hope for children and adults.  They are free to choose the myth of permanence in ability or my theory that provides hope and improvement.

    The Male Crisis is but one application of my Learning Theory.  My Learning Theory provides two large tools we can teach to students and adults to continually improve thinking, learning, motivation to learn, and most importantly, mental/emotional health for all students and adults.  My complete Learning Theory and its Cognitive tools are free to all by e-mail –  Feel free to make copies of all files.
    I feel the teachings of different modes of learning and/or different areas of brain activity are bogus, and are the result over much differential treatment and experience over time.
    I feel the idea of male classrooms where some drill instructor pushes Males with more firmness to be equally destructive.
    I feel unless we look at environment causes and corrections my theory (which is separate from this article) talks about, the present teachings and ideas regarding organic structural differences are bound to fail.

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